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Issue 6, 2011
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Visualising the equilibrium distribution and mobility of organic contaminants in soil using the chemical partitioning space

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Abstract

Assessing the behaviour of organic chemicals in soil is a complex task as it is governed by the physical chemical properties of the chemicals, the characteristics of the soil as well as the ambient conditions of the environment. The chemical partitioning space, defined by the air–water partition coefficient (KAW) and the soil organic carbonwater partition coefficient (KOC), was employed to visualize the equilibrium distribution of organic contaminants between the air-filled pores, the pore water and the solid phases of the bulk soil and the relative importance of the three transport processes removing contaminants from soil (evaporation, leaching and particle erosion). The partitioning properties of twenty neutral organic chemicals (i.e. herbicides, pharmaceuticals, polychlorinated biphenyls and volatile chemicals) were estimated using poly-parameter linear free energy relationships and superimposed onto these maps. This allows instantaneous estimation of the equilibrium phase distribution and mobility of neutral organic chemicals in soil. Although there is a link between the major phase and the dominant transport process, such that chemicals found in air-filled pore space are subject to evaporation, those in water-filled pore space undergo leaching and those in the sorbed phase are associated with particle erosion, the partitioning coefficient thresholds for distribution and mobility can often deviate by many orders of magnitude. In particular, even a small fraction of chemical in pore water or pore air allows for evaporation and leaching to dominate over solid phase transport. Multiple maps that represent soils that differ in the amount and type of soil organic matter, water saturation, temperature, depth of surface soil horizon, and mineral matters were evaluated.

Graphical abstract: Visualising the equilibrium distribution and mobility of organic contaminants in soil using the chemical partitioning space

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 Feb 2011, accepted on 01 Apr 2011 and first published on 02 Jun 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10109A
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2011,13, 1569-1578
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    Visualising the equilibrium distribution and mobility of organic contaminants in soil using the chemical partitioning space

    F. Wong and F. Wania, J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 1569
    DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10109A

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